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Trapped on Wisconsin Farms: The Hidden Plight of Trafficked Workers

March 14, 2024 (1 min read)

Ruth Conniff, Wisconsin Examiner, Mar. 14, 2024

"In Wisconsin, and around the country, immigrant rights advocates and law enforcement agencies have been stepping up efforts to bring labor trafficking cases to light, forcing the issue into public consciousness. A year ago, a coalition of Wisconsin advocates and state law enforcement officials announced a joint effort to investigate and prosecute these cases, in which employers and contractors use force, fraud and coercion to make workers stay in jobs they are desperate to escape.

 Mariana Rodriguez, Director of UMOS Latina Resource Center

“There’s a lot of money being gained from these cheap workers. … and they can be easily disposed of,” said Mariana Rodriguez, director of the United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) Latina Resource Center. UMOS has provided services to immigrant workers in Wisconsin for more than 50 years. In February 2023, the group, together with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, won a $5.1 million grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for a collaborative effort to eradicate labor trafficking — “this most heinous crime.” The grant funds two labor trafficking agents at DOJ as well as community education and outreach by UMOS, the Department of Workforce Development and the Women’s Community Center in Wausau."